The sun has produced energy for billions of years. Solar energy is the sun's rays(solar radiation) that reach the Earth. This energy can be converted into other forms of energy, such as heat and electricity.
Photovolataic (PV devices) or "solar cells" change sunlight directly into electricity. Individual PV cells are grouped into panels and arrays of panels that can be used in a wide range of applications from single small cells that charge calculator and watch batteries to systems that power single homes, to large power plants covering many acres.
Solar cooking is the simplest, safest, most convenient way to cook food without consuming fuels or heating up the kitchen. For hundreds of millions of people around the world who cook over fires fueled by wood or dung and who walk for miles to collect wood or spend much of their meager incomes on fuels, solar cooking is more than a choice -- it is life changing!
This is our most popular kit. Students enjoy building their own mini solar cars but the part they like most is RACING THEM!!! Our mini solar car is a toy and a learning tool. It is a fun way of informing kids about solar energy. While constructing model cars students learn how motors work, learn about solar panels, and gearing systems all by simply following the easy instructions.
Car kits are available for purchase or borrow.
To purchase car kits fill out an order form and indicate it is for purchase.( car kits are $18 each)
Each kit includes:
- One 3" X 5" piece of corrugated plastic
- Two 4.25" aluminum axles
- Two larger rear wheels
- Two narrow front wheels
- One PV panel with wire soldered to one motor
- One or more larger axle gears
- One or more smaller motor gears
- Several spacer beads
- Two wirenuts
- Instruction Manual
Teach your student sthat Gas and Electricity are not the only ways to cook. Solar ovens or cookers are devices that use sunlight as their energy source to cook food. Because they use no fuel and they cost nothing to run they are used by many people. Food is prepared as it would be in an oven or a stove top. The cookers reah up to 350 degrees preparing a toasty snack powered by the sun. Just be careful the food might be hot, OUCH!!!!
If you build your own solar cooker or water heater, bring it to one of our great energy competitions!
- Because food cooks faster in smaller portions we recommend cutting the food into smaller pieces than usual.
- Any black on the inside of a solar cooker, as well as certain materials for pots, will improve the effectiveness of turning light into heat. A black pan will absorb the best and reflect the least.
- Using clear materials, like plastic bags or glass covers will allow light to enter and trap the heat inside.
Solar Cookers are available for loan only!
Folding Foil Ovens
The foil ovens with a foil glass cooker are cut manually to the shape required. Place a balack enameled steel pot inside the super shiny aluminum foil reflector to capture the direct or indirect energy of the sun. Set up takes less than 30 seconds and is easily collapsible into a light weight flat unit, ideal for camping and backpacking. Maintains temperatures of up to 250-300 degrees. These ovens can be used as a template to make your own ovens from aluminum foil available at building centers.
Single Solar Cooker
Each of our sun oven is constructed with a strong plastic case that is both durable and easy to clean. Attached are foldable panels to increase solar capture and tempered glass top door to retain the heat. You can use a black enamel pot or a glass casserole dish in the Sun Oven. Completely safe to use around kids.
Double Solar Cooker
This oven is extremely easy to use, just put it out in the sun for about 2 to 5 hours and come back to great food. It never overcooks because the temperature stays more noderate like a crock pot. As the name suggest it hols 2 10" pots( included) and maintains a temperature of 200-350 degrees. Folding reflectors are also included, but do NOT use them on bright sunny days to prevent overheating!
We also loan out educator resource kits if needed with exciting recipes that you can try with the solar cooker. YUMMY!!!!
Solar Energy Explorations - Use your solar car to answer these three questions.
Solar Photos from a Can - Pinhole camera photos of the sun's path in Scandinavia
Solargraph 1 - Detailed instructions for making a pinhole camera
Solargraph 2 - Summary instructions for making a pinhole camera
Solar camera photos - Examples of pinhole camera locations, what the camera "sees", and the resulting solar graphs.
Graph of Sun's Location for Cedar Falls - Altitude by azimuth graph based on data provided below. Use this as an example, and plot a solar graph for YOUR location!
Sun Position Cedar Falls - Example of the data available from the U.S. Naval Observatory website. Just type in your town name or zipcode and date and let the US Navy give you the sun or moon's location!
Estimate Cloud Cover Activity - A GLOBE activity that corelates with local PV production
Build a PV Panel - A paper and pencil activity that explains how light is converted to electricity by a PV panel
Solar Candy Baked Apple recipe. We like to make individual servings by placing an apple in a cup to bake.
Queensland activities for Solar Cooking
Queensland activities for Passive Solar Building Design
Queensland activities for Photovoltaics